Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse calls for enhancement of women’s and girls’ online protection
In a joint statement the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse emphasized the importance of taking additional steps to ‘protect and promote women’s and girls’ right to participate in public life.
Marking the International Day of Democracy, members of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse issued a joint statement on 15 September 2023, highlighting the need to take further actions to ‘protect and promote women’s and girls’ right to participate in public life.’
The statement stressed that healthy and successful democracies depend on the active engagement of all citizens, including women and girls. Nevertheless, online threats and attacks against women and girls participating in public life appear to be rising. According to a study conducted by the Interparliamentary Union (IPU), the majority of the women legislators polled have encountered various kinds of online psychological abuse (such as death threats and sexual harassment) and an array of discriminatory acts (based on ‘age, race, religion, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity’).
The undersigned countries draw the states and technology companies’ attention to the dire need for addressing the ever-growing problem of ‘technology-facilitated gender-based violence.’ They also urge to support the ‘Safety by Design approach’, which advocates for using various technologies and practical approaches to further safeguard women’s right to feel secure while participating in public life. They also emphasized that the development of digital technologies, including AI, has increased cyberviolence, including deepfakes and revenge porn, among other crimes.
Why does it matter?
Collective actions and raising awareness of the impact of online gender-based violence would be only the first step to ensuring the online protection of women and girls. Adopting legislation against online gender-based violence is imperative to ensure online protection and end the impunity of such crimes. The EU lawmakers agreed to push the directive on combating violence against women and domestic violence in July 2023 and await the European Commission and the EU Council to finalise the text. This would make it the first-ever legislation in the EU to address gender-based violence, including forms of cybercviolence such as AI-generated porn deepfakes. However, regulation only at the regional level is not enough as some countries do not consider online gender-based violence a crime.